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Scuba Diving: General Information
Islander is San Diego's premier multi-day live aboard dive vessel specializing in Baja's Pacific coast.
Detailed boat specifications can be found in the Boat Specs section of this website but here are few details that will be useful to divers.
Islander is an 85' x 24' deluxe sport fisher/dive boat. Built originally as the Red Rooster II she was designed as a long-range vessel. As such she played a critical role in the development of today's modern long-range fleet. She is licensed by the United States Coast Guard as a 'Zone 3' vessel which allows her to navigate the entire length of the Baja Peninsula and up into the Sea of Cortez. As a USCG inspected vessel, Islander carries all appropriate safety equipment for extended offshore service.
Onboard Dive Amenities
Twin Bauer compressors with 3600 cu ft of high pressure air storage ensure dive tanks are serviced in a timely manner. Islander Charters is fitted with redundant air systems and a large capacity of stored air for long-range trips. Getting geared up is easy with sit-down dive benches/tank racks on both the port and starboard side. These benches are designed with both passenger comfort and gear organization in mind. Underwater photographers/videographers will find Islander very camera friendly and will appreciate two large camera tables with freshwater rinse basins located on the aft dive deck. Circulating saltwater trays keep masks clean in a sanitary environment between dives.
Underwater hunters will benefit from Islanders state-of-the-art Refrigerated Sea Water (RSW) fish hold. Islander also has multiple live-wells for game storage with one topping out at 900 gallons.
Islander carries medical grade extended use oxygen for dive emergencies. Satellite telephones and emergency radio communications allow Islander to stay in contact with emergency services even in the most remote locations.
Islander is designed with passenger comfort and safety in mind. The boat has 11 air conditioned staterooms offering individual thermostats and washbasins. All bunks have single beds, linens & pillows. Stateroom doors can be secured from inside. The main deck has two newly remodelled heads, each with hot and cold showers. Islander also features a spacious sun deck for lounging topside.
From the Galley
Islander recognizes the importance of fine food on the water. The galley, with seating for twenty, is fully equipped for any style of cooking providing passengers with a wide range of cuisine. From traditional meals to the freshest fish in the world, Islander Charters cuts no corners in an effort to present a truly memorable dining experience. Islander's four-star dining, presented by our galley staff is the hallmark of a true liveaboard. Dietary restrictions are not a problem and our chefs looks forward to accommodating your needs.
What Gear to bring
Your complete DIVE gear list should include but is not limited to:
- BCD, tank(s) and regulators, all in service.
- Exposure gear (wetsuit or drysuit, hood, gloves & boots)
- Mask, fins and snorkel (spare straps would also be smart)
- Weight belt (weights can be provided and consist of mostly hard weights)
- Dive light and spare batteries, cylume sticks for night dives
- Safety sausage, whistle and other signaling devices
- Dive computer or tables
- Certification card and dive log
- Gear bag
- Towels and warm clothing for after your dive
A note on exposure gear
A minimum of 7mm wetsuit is usually considered standard dive equipment for Southern California diving although as we travel south as little as 5mm may be sufficient. Islander does however recommend at least an 7mm suit, 3mm hood, boots and gloves for repetitive cold water diving.
A note on dive planning
Many modern divers recognize the advantages of using a dive computer to plan and conduct their dives. We encourage the use of computers especially on multi-day trips. Divers who prefer to use tables are welcome to do so but must wear a timing device and should discuss their dive profiles with the Divemaster. As per accepted standards, computer divers must each carry their own computer and should dive to the most conservative profile.
Setting up your gear
Islander has port and starboard benches specifically designed to maximize the ease of gearing up and providing you with plenty of room to move. After returning from your dive the crew will fill your tanks in place, leaving your BCD and tank set up as you left it. Gear is stored beneath dive benches in crates or on deck in your own bags.
Our swim step is 20 ft wide and accessible by a very easy step down from the main deck. A giant stride entry from the swim step or side gates is usually the preferred method of entry although some divers prefer to climb down our ladder into the water and have their cameras etc handed down to them.
For a comprehensive look at out dives sites we have provided maps divided into our trip ranges on the
Scuba Diving Homepage
Dive Conditions and water temperature Southern California/Northern Baja surface temperatures range from the low sixties during spring months to a high near 70 degrees through summer and fall. Although surface temperatures are relatively warm during the summer months, divers will experience a sharp thermocline towards the bottom which is very standard in California diving so don't forget your gloves! The coldest water temperatures but best visibility occur in the winter months where it can drop into the mid 50's then warming up again towards June. Some offshore destination can boast visibility up to 100' or more while visibility at island destinations usually ranges from 30'-80'. As with any offshore/island destination, strong currents and choppy sea states are possibility. Captains will asses conditions and work hard to choose ideal dive sites suiting experience levels of those aboard.
Traveling south into Baja, divers will be treated to an extremely unique experience as they dive their way south through the latitudes into progressively warmer water. The full scope of Baja's pacific underwater flora and fauna can be experienced as it transitions from cold productive into warm tropical waters. In a ten day trip, divers may begin their trip in 60 degree water and finish the trip in 80 degree water with no thermocline. Visibility rarely goes below 30 feet and can be as high as 150 feet in many places. Experienced divers will enjoy our open ocean pinnacle diving as well as pristine islands but should be aware that strong currents and choppy surface conditions are frequent challenges and part of diving in untamed and pristine environments.
Divers experience level
Islander caters to all diver levels from open water onwards. All divers must carry a valid certification card with photo identification. We consider that while all divers have been trained to a similar level, true diving experience is based upon a number of factors such as frequency of dives, number of dives and places you have dove. Some of our sites are suitable only for very experienced divers and may require certain minimum certifications such as advanced or deep diver training. The vast majority however have spots suitable to all levels.
Southern California and especially Baja diving can be very picturesque with vast kelp forests, sponges, walls, pinnacles, sea lions, seals, giant lobster, rays, sharks, eels, giant Black Sea bass, Grouper, Yellowtail and even Wahoo and Tuna. Islander's spacious interior is the ideal place to set up your camera and video systems. While out on deck we have two large camera tables and rinse tanks to keep them safe and ready to go.